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 by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

 

A commentary on the miraculous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima 

 

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I do not know a countenance equal to this one. Moved by an inveterate habit of observing everything, I contemplate it so that I may later understand it. As I fix my eyes upon that countenance, I suddenly perceive that I am entering it.

Yes, its unique expression emanates from the face and especially the eyes. Enveloped in the ambience it creates, I feel invited to enter deep into her gaze.

What a gaze! None other is so calm, frank, pure, or welcoming. In none other can one penetrate with such ease. None other holds such unfathomable depth or grand horizons. The more one penetrates this gaze, the more one is attracted toward an indescribable interior and sublime summit.

What summit? A state of soul I would be tempted to describe as full of paradoxes if the word “paradox,” were not so misused today and thus appear disrespectful.

The Scholastics say every perfection results from the balance of harmonious opposites. Thus I am not speaking about a precarious balance between flagrant contradictions whereby our contemporary world seeks to maintain a poor stained and vacillating peace at the cost of so many shameful concessions. No, this is a supreme harmony of all forms of good.

In the depth of this gaze, I see arise precisely a peak where all perfections meet. It is a peak incomparably higher than the columns that support the firmament. It is a peak where a crystalline, categorical and irresistible rule excludes every form of evil, however slight or small.

One could spend a whole lifetime within that gaze, without ever reaching the summit of that peak. It is not however a useless effort. Within that gaze one does not walk, but flies. One is not a tourist but a pilgrim.

Although the pilgrim can never reach the height of that sacred mountain, the sum of all created perfection, he sees it with ever increasing clarity the more he flies toward her. 

 

On Pilgrimage Within a Gaze of Our Lady of Fatima

While on this pilgrimage of the soul, the pilgrim flies toward a gaze that does not merely envelope but penetrates him. Closing his eyes, he perceives a light in the depths of his being.

The gaze is the soul of the countenance. It is an impressive countenance! The fool might consider it inexpressive. To a skilled observer, it is greater than History because it touches eternity; greater than the universe because it reflects the infinite.

The forehead appears to contain thoughts that, beginning with a crib and ending with a Cross, take in all of human events.

The lines of the entire face and nose possess a charm “more beautiful than beauty.” As a poet once wrote, these are silent lips that nevertheless say everything at every moment. They appear to praise God in the uniqueness of every creature, beseeching God to have pity on every pain and misery as if she had suffered from each one of them. These lips have an eloquence which reduces the orations of Demosthenes or Cicero to utter babble. What can be said of the skin other that it is snowy-white? This description says both everything and nothing. To describe it, one would need to imagine a snowiness that profoundly reflects with infinite discretion, all the shades of the rainbow, which would in turn inspire the soul that contemplated it with all the wonders of purity.

Yes, I went on pilgrimage within this gaze so filled with surprises. Yet, I unexpectedly feel that her gaze also went on pilgrimage inside me. Hers was a poor and merciful pilgrimage, not from splendor to splendor, but from need to need, from misery to misery. If only I open myself to her, she will offer me a remedy for my shortcomings, help against every obstacle and hope for every affliction.

This statue is a wooden statue without any special artistic value like so many others. And yet, one only has to fix one’s eyes on this statue to see that, without moving or the least physical transformation, it becomes brilliant with all these splendors. I do not know how this happens. However, if the reader wishes, let him look and see…

I insist. If you believe in the description that I have made, I invite you in turn to make this magnificent pilgrimage within the gazes of the Virgin. If you do not believe, look and see. I could not offer a better invitation…

I pray to her for thee. I pray for the Holy Church troubled and tormented as never before.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 23, 2020

The purer are your words and your glances, the more pleasing...

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November 23

 

The purer are your words and your
glances,
the more pleasing will you be to the
Blessed Virgin. And
the greater will be the
graces that she will obtain for you
from her Divine Son.


St. John Bosco


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Columban

He struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself...

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St. Columban

Columban was born about the year 543 in County Meath, in the Irish province of Leinster, to respectable parents. He was well-educated in grammar, rhetoric, geometry, and the Holy Scriptures. The young Columban resolved early to embrace monastic asceticism and dedicate himself to a strict and disciplined life, abstaining from many of the pleasures of the world. However, he struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself wholly to God, asked the advice of a religious woman who had lived as a hermit for many years.

His mother tried her utmost to deter him from the course of action proposed by the saintly hermit, but Columban took the holy woman’s advice and left Leinster to become a cloistered monk at the monastery of Bangor in County Down. He remained there a number of years before gaining permission from his superior, St. Congall, to evangelize in foreign lands. With twelve companions he traveled to Gaul and set about preaching and teaching the Gospel.

In 590, news of these monks reached Guntramnus, the King of Burgundy, who was so inspired by the holy men that he gave the Irish monk and his companions the ancient Roman castle of Annegray, in the region’s Vosges Mountains, in which to establish a monastery. Within a few years, the increasing number of followers obliged Columban to expand and, with the help of one of the King’s ministers, he obtained from the King another ancient Roman fortification named Luxeuil, on the site of some ancient Roman baths. A third monastery soon followed to house the growing number of disciples. The monks followed a harsh discipline similar to the unusual characteristics of Celtic Christianity: they carried out penances for every transgression, no matter how small, fasted, performed bodily mortifications and prayed at length.

Twenty years after his first monastic foundation, Columban and his fellow Irishmen were expelled from the country. Brunhilda, the wicked and corrupt queen regent, disliked the holy man for his reproach of the immoral ways of her court and ultimately exiled him in 610.

Columban and his monks traveled to Italy where they were welcomed by Agilulf, King of the Lombards. Agilulf gave the monks a dilapidated church at Bobbio to reestablish themselves. Columban himself did much of the repairs in spite of his seventy years of age.

He died at Bobbio in 615 having spent the last few years of his life praying and preparing for death. His followers established monasteries all over Europe.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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